Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Anne Thompson hardy geranium

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Small but feisty:  'Anne Thompson' is a hardy geranium with flowers that command attention.  So what if they're only an inch across?  With electric violet petals dramatically veined in black, these flowers greet you from clear across the garden.

 

I have just one clump of 'Anne',  but she's explored almost six feet of this bed, underneath a standard of dwarf ginkgo as well as a dwarfish blue-needled larch.  There's a young plant of an extraordinarily high-flowering daylily in there somewhere, but if I don't keep the geranium from swamping its still-modest foliage, I'll never see the six-foot bloom stalks of Hemerocallis 'Autumn King'.  I'll keep on it.

 

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Here's how to grow this enthusiastic, genial perennial:

 

Latin Name

Geranium 'Anne Thompson'

Common Name

'Anne Thompson' hardy geranium

Family

Geraniaceae, the Geranium family.

What kind of plant is it?

Herbaceous perennial.

Hardiness

Zones 4 - 8.

Habit

Lax, sprawling, clumping perennial.

Rate of Growth

Fast.

Size in ten years

A clump five or six feet across and, depending on what it's scrambling through, two to four feet tall.

Texture

Feathery and graceful; an ornament to whatever it's scrambling through rather than a defined "center-of-gravity" in itself.

Grown for

the electrical-violet, black-veined flowers.

 

the flexible, scrambling habit and somewhat sparse foliage, so stems can wander across, through, and up into neighboring plants without (usually) shading them out.

 

the foliage, which in cool-Summer climates holds a chartreuse glow; for me in a typical warm-to-hot East Coast Spring and Summer, the color is ephemeral at best. 


its reliability, returning year after year.

Flowering season

Early Summer: June here in Rhode Island, and, sporadically, for much of the Summer. 

Culture

Easy!  Full sun in rich soil with good drainage; otherwise part shade with only decent soil.  The foliage can scorch with too much sun or too dry soil.

How to handle it

Some of the hardy geraniums have large and dense foliage, plus a low-to-the-ground habit, making them terrific and, literally, weed-proof groundcovers.  'Anne Thompson' is one of the other kind of hardy geraniums, with long and sparsely-leaved stems that scramble through and even climb up into the neighbors. 

 

Strongly-vertical neighbors—true lilies, say, or thalictrums, or Boltonia 'Nallie's Lime Dots'—will poke up cleanly, leaving 'Anne' as a loose groundcover around their ankles.  But unless a neighboring shrub or perennial is so dense—think boxwood—that nothing could hope to penetrate the interior and force its way through the foliage on the other side, 'Anne' will scramble through the interior of almost anything, and spangle its interior as well as its full-sun surface with vivid flowers and (for a moment) chartreuse foliage.  In either situation, the perennial is the epitome of collegial but, nonetheless, vigorous charm. 

 

In my experience, 'Anne Thompson's best siting is with deeply-shade-tolerant lower groundcovers (vinca, say) that she can lounge upon, with plenty of loose-growing tall stuff that she can scramble through, or at least lean on.

 

By mid-Summer, feel free to cut the entire clump right down to an inch or two, which stimulates fresh growth and more flowers.

Downsides

The foliage gets a bit "rusty" in wet weather, but this is apparent only at close range; the broad-view charm of this perennial is undiminished.

Variants

There are, conservatively, a jillion hardy geraniums.  Even a garden of only modest extent has room for six or eight.  'Anne Thompson' is the reliable version of 'Anne Folkard', whose look and habit are similar, but which, in my experience, is only modestly perennial—as in, it disappears by next Summer.  Other sources, however, moan that 'Anne Folkard' is the true thug, and celebrate that 'Anne Thompson' is comparatively restrained.  How nice for them.

Availability

On-line.

Propagation

Division.

Native habitat

'Anne' is a hybrid of G. psilostemon, which is native to Central Europe and East-Central Asia, and G. procurrens, which is native to the Himalayas.

 
 
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